Thursday, March 24, 2016

Dear makeup diary - feeling overwhelmed by my makeup collection

Those of you who follow me on Instagram or chat with me on Reddit may already know this, but the tail end of 2015 to now beauty wise has been all about trimming down my collection and appreciating what I own. I wanted to write a little bit about how I've been feeling about my collection - maybe it will help you refocus on your own collection, declutter, plan purchases more, or something else. Who knows.

I have been thinking about writing this post for a long time, but I decided to go for it after reading or hearing other people say things that really felt like what I was feeling. Notably, Dustin Hunter's YouTube video (his #1 tip for saving money on makeup? Don't buy any.), the subreddit Makeup Rehab, and Kimberly Clark's excellent Anti Haul series.

Where I went wrong 

I wish I could tell you that I arrived at my desire for a smaller, more edited collection in an inspiring, zen way. Or I wish I could tell you that I dialed back on buying makeup and beauty products because I found my holy grail in every category or new releases stopped catching my attention. I wish, but no. I started realizing as I was getting ready in the morning that I had much, much more makeup than I was using. I realized that I had products I forgot about for months. I started feeling overwhelmed looking at my makeup table and then I started feeling guilty about the money I had spent on beauty products. I never spent money that should have gone to bills or something more important, but I realized that they money I spent on beauty products a little at a time could have added up to larger more durable joys - a really nice camera, fancy dates with my husband, the comfort of a larger savings account, and a bunch of other things.

The hype machine

Probably like many people, the items I bought when I first started getting into makeup years ago were the products I saw on blogs, YouTube, and on Instagram, not the products that were thoughtfully purchased with my own preferences in mind. In the beginning, buying items based on internet reviews from strangers felt so rational. By comparison to my impulsive Walgreens eyeliner purchases in junior high, YouTube reviews made me feel like I was being smarter with my money. The problem, of course, is that my makeup collection snowballed. When I was first introduced to the YouTube and Instagram beauty community, I was naive enough to not think about where these people were getting their products, photo blurring and overexposed video lighting, how long they had used the item before giving it a thumbs up, and reading between the lines to infer a negative review from a relentlessly positive 'guru'. 

Not only was I literally buying into the hype machine, I didn't know my own preferences well enough to discern the difference between "this color is perfect for everyone!!!" and a shade I, personally, would use often in my routine. I wish I could have learned what my preferences were another way, but I learned what I didn't care for by buying products, trying them, and then realizing that I didn't like a specific shade or finish on my skin. Combining decades of untapped makeup curiosity, the disposable income from a professional job, and the proliferation of makeup focused beauty communities/channels online in the last five years has brought me to the place of having a large collection.

So, I felt super, duper guilty. I realized that I was spending my precious resources - my hard earned money, my time, my mental energy - on something that wasn't giving me the joy it had before. I still enjoyed my getting ready time in the morning, but I felt like my relationship with the online beauty community and shopping had to change.

What I did to help myself change my behavior: 

1. A seriously big declutter. Over the last six months, I have reduced my makeup collection by half. My goal is to only have products in my collection that I actually use regularly and love using. (I'm thinking about writing a post about the strategies I used to prune my collection? Leave me a comment if you are interested)

2. I took a break from the internet. One of my goals was to finish Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series (over 3 million words in 10 volumes!). I spent lots of time reading, cooking, and playing board games in the time I would have otherwise spent online in the evenings or on weekends. Minimizing my time online helped me refocus on other hobbies, which helped me enjoy my getting ready in the morning time again.

3. I took a break from shopping. The first few months of stopping going to Ulta or CVS just to see what was new were hard, but the $10 here and there adds up. I have been working on only going shopping when there is something I need to buy and spending my money on an intentional purchase instead of buying impulsively.

4. I focused my blog posts on reviews. Writing detailed reviews, especially on products I have been using for a long time, has helped me focus on the products I already own instead of products I would like to buy.

5. I unsubscribed. I culled a ton of 'subscriptions' to YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, boards on Pinterest, blogs, and store email blasts. I thought about the kind of content I want to keep watching, seeing, and reading and made sure my online subscriptions reflected that.

I really hope this was helpful! If you have experienced something similar, how did you handle it? Any tips for the rest of us? Please share in the comments!

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